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Israel Steps Up Security at Jerusalem Holy Site

By VOA News

Israel has stepped up security around Jerusalem's holiest site to prevent clashes between Muslim worshippers and Jewish extremists opposed to Israel's impending withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of police have been mobilized around what Jews call the Temple Mount, and Muslims know as the Noble Sanctuary. Meanwhile, Hamas leaders in Gaza held a rare news conference Saturday, vowing to continue their struggle against Israel. The Palestinian Authority says security forces are fully prepared ahead of their deployment today to prevent any attempts by militants to disrupt Israel's withdrawal from Gaza beginning this week.

Gaza Strip Sealed As Disengagement Begins

By Ynetnews, Ha'aretz, & VOA News

After several unsuccessful attempts, the gate at Gaza's Kissufim crossing was lowered for the last time, marking the beginning of the disengagement. From now on, Israelis are no longer allowed to enter the Gaza Strip. Signs in Hebrew and English pasted to the roadblock inform visitors that they are banned from entering or staying in Gaza.

Meanwhile, all crossing points into Gaza were also sealed off. The Karni-Netzarim road, which leads to the central Gaza settlement of Netzarim, was closed to traffic. In the next two days, Gaza residents would be able to leave the Strip with their cars, but as of Wednesday they would no longer be allowed to depart independently.

Police and IDF forces are preparing to arrive at settlers' homes starting at 7 a.m. Monday, knock on residents' doors, and inform them they have 48 hours to leave their houses. Should the evacuees refuse to leave voluntarily, forces will remove them by force starting Wednesday. At this time it appears the pullout will start with communities characterized as easy to evacuate and will gradually move on to more difficult settlements.

Meanwhile, security sources told Ynet that officials would make the final decision regarding the evacuation sequence without government approval. The matter was reportedly finalized in a meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and senior security officials.

According to official assessments, about 5,000 infiltrators are currently inside the Gaza Strip and are expected to constitute the hardcore resistance to the withdrawal. However, Army Chief Dan Halutz estimated that the infiltrators' presence would not delay the evacuation. Some 25,000 IDF soldiers and Israel Police and Border Guard officers are participating in pullout-related tasks. Hundreds of Gush Katif settlers have left the area via the Kissufim roadblock; many hauled their belongings on pick-up trucks, and some Rafah Yam settlers even dragged their boats out of Gush Katif.

Some Peat Sadeh settlers preferred to burn their furniture, while others detached windows and sun-heated water tanks to prepare their homes for their imminent demolition. "For every 20 people that leave (Gush Katif), one person enters with food or equipment," a police official told Ynet. Many Gush Katif settlers were seen trying to sell old equipment to Palestinians residing in the Muasi area, near the settlement of Shirat Hayam.

The number of people infiltrating Gush Katif has decreased significantly, but dozens of teenagers were waiting for rides in hitchhiking stops on the way to Gaza. Many settlers spent the day in synagogues for Tisha B'av prayer sessions, which included lamentations on "the expulsion of Gush Katif and West Bank Jews."

Ono Sunday night, settlers clashed with IDF troops near the northern West Bank settlements of Sa-Nur and Shavei Shomron. Sa-Nur is one of the four settlements in the northern West Bank to be evacuated along with the Gaza Strip. Thousands of settlers in Gaza remained inside the settlements, vowing to resist their eviction. Other opponents of the pullout have threatened to hold massive demonstrations against the plan and to run the roadblock on the Gaza border to create chaos and torpedo the plan.

The IDF and police decided not to deliver eviction orders to five Gaza Strip settlements following requests by their residents. Therefore, soldiers will not enter Monday morning the settlements of Netzarim, Kfar Darom, Azmona, Katif and Dugit. Senior police sources said the disengagement law does not stipulate such orders are to be issued, but the security establishment had decided to deliver them to the settlers. Soldiers will therefore not clash with settlers refusing to let them enter their communities with the eviction orders.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres voiced guarded optimism about the long-awaited pullout from the Gaza Strip. Exuding a calm demeanor, Peres did not flinch when asked about the possibility of violence in Gaza over the coming days as Israel vacates Jewish settlements. "We may have some problems," he said. "But by and large, I think we shall do it on time from the beginning to the end. And there will not be any civil war. And if there are skirmishes, we shall handle them with care and overcome them."

The deputy prime minister was speaking on CNN's Late Edition program, hours before Israeli troops were to seal off Gaza settlements. Also appearing on the program was Palestinian Foreign Minister Nasser al-Kidwa, who admitted that hard-line Palestinian militants could cause trouble during the Israeli pullout. "We tried our best to stop these kinds of attacks through dialogue, but we also made it clear that, if need be, we will have to try to put an end to such attacks by force," said al-Kidwa. "Hopefully, we will not have to do such things, and hopefully all Palestinian factions will remain committed to our agreement with regard to the ceasefire."

Even if the coming days go relatively smoothly, al-Kidwa said that the dismantling of Israeli settlements is not, by itself, enough to guarantee a peaceful foundation for the future. "We hope that after the withdrawal we have a good degree of freedom of movement for persons and goods," he added. "We need good accessibility - a linkage between Gaza and the West Bank, and linkage between Gaza and the outside world."

But former. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said, after what many Israelis consider a sacrifice, dismantling Jewish settlements, the burden of keeping the peace process moving forward will fall heavily on the Palestinians, as well. "It is extremely painful for the people who have lived in these [Jewish] settlements for decades, who are being asked to withdraw for the prospect of a negotiation and not for anything that is being done in return," he said. "And for the Arab side, they have to understand that if they do not reciprocate by reducing their terrorism, any future peace process will become almost impossible."

Israel's High Court of Justice, rejecting a right-wing legal challenge, Sunday upheld the right of the Israel Defense Forces to disperse demonstrations held within Israel proper. Chief Justice Aharon Barak rejected a petition by the Law Forum for the Land of Israel, which held that Israel Defense Soldiers may not be used to seal-off an area of Israel surrounding the Gaza Strip during the disengagement. "The rule of law is being put to the test, and the character of Israel as a democracy is being put to the test," Barak wrote in his ruling.

"The pain is very sharp," wrote Barak, "but this pain should not translate into illegal activity that undermines our democratic values. IDF troops assisting to implement government and Knesset decisions are the arm of Israeli democracy. They are the guards on its walls," the chief justice wrote. In general, police are used to handle demonstrations within Israel, while the army's operations regarding unrest are confined to Palestinian areas of the territories.

Barak, with Justices Ayala Procaccia and Salim Joubran concurring, held that in compliance with emergency regulations, IDF soldiers may search, apprehend and arrest anyone suspected of an attempt to infiltrate illegally into the Gaza Strip. In its decision, the High Court approved the use of soldiers to control events held by civilians on Israeli soil. The decision was based on a law legislated in 1995, which allows the use of the IDF to achieve the state's national security goals. "The implementation of the disengagement plan is a national security goal," said Barak.

Also on Sunday the High Court rejected a petition submitted by five residents of the Gush Katif settlement of Neveh Dekalim against IDF plans to use portable detention units during the evacuation. Barak, Dorit Beinisch and Esther Hauyt said that the state had announced the device would only be used in extreme situations for the evacuation of people barricaded in high places, and when all attempts to persuade them to leave voluntarily would fail. The devices "would be used on a limited number of incidents" said the justices, and therefore they found no room for the court to intervene.

Gaza Settler Establishes 'Jewish Authority' in Gaza Strip

By Ha'aretz

Aryeh Yitzhaki, a resident of the Gaza settlement of Kfar Yam, announced the establishment of a Jewish Authority in the Strip on Sunday. "According to international law, when an occupying force leaves territory that it held, local residents become sovereign rulers of that territory," Yitzhaki declared at a news conference. He said that rather than be evacuated, the settlers should recognized as sovereign rulers of the place, as an independent entity separate from Israel.

Some 15 supporters of the initiative, wearing shirts emblazoned with the words "The Jewish Authority" cheered Yitzhaki's announcement. Yitzhaki said many residents of the Gush Katif settlement bloc support his initiative, and that elections in the Authority would be held in three weeks.

Yitzhaki, who recently established the Gaza Region Absorption Authority, which encourages the emigration of Israelis to the Strip, declared that, "in honor of Israel disengaging from Gush Katif," the Authority will hold democratic elections within 21 days. Authority supporters called on the Israeli government to dispatch weapons and supplies, and requested that various international institutions recognize the Authority.

Gaza -- What Did We Learn?

By Emanuel A. Winston (Commentary)

We learned through experience that one man who is elected Prime Minister could, if he wishes, turn the power of his office, into a seat of dictatorship. We learned that there is no law that restrains this and past governments from imposing their will upon one or another segment of the population. We learned that the Knesset is hopelessly weak (except for a handful of courageous Members) and makes little effort to protect the public against a tyrannical Prime Minister.

We learned that crooked politicians in Israel do not get indicted for their crimes, or go to jail. We learned that political crooks can and do appoint Attorney Generals who ensure that Prime Ministers, their sons or the followers of the Prime Minister are not investigated for crimes against the State. We learned that friends and advisors of a Prime Minister may cut deals to build gambling casinos on land confiscated from Jews...and that their advisors work together with Arab Muslim Palestinian Terrorists to build and protect for the financial benefit of both sides.

We learned that Jews could be uprooted from their homes anywhere in Israel if it benefits the political and financial aspirations of either the left or the right. We learned that a Prime Minister (without advise or consent of the Knesset) can and has colluded with foreign nations to commit treason against his own nation and people to advance the interests of foreign nations.

We have learned how easy it was to recruit and corrupt some members of the Israeli Police and army to attack Jews in way that are common in a police state. We have learned and confirmed that the courts of Israel - up to and including the highest Supreme Court - are 'activist' (make their own laws without Knesset approval). That the Courts are ideologically corrupt to the point where the proclaimed enemies of the Jewish State are highly favored by the Supreme Court and its Chief Justice Aharon Barak.

We have learned that, denials notwithstanding, that the Israel government has colluded with foreign interests to force follow-on evacuation for the entire center of the Jewish Land, in order to appease Saudi Arabia and the Muslims, in general. We have learned that, having generals as ministers of the affairs of state, generally bring the nation to the fringe of bankruptcy due to being hopelessly incompetent in every phase of running the economic affairs of government.

We have learned that the leaders of the left will pursue every secret trick to advance the cause of the Arab Muslims, knowing that they are putting the Jewish population at risk of death and injury. We have learned that we cannot trust certain American leaders who are hopelessly connected to the Saudis, with the understanding that Israel is expendable for the "greater good" of the oil countries, companies and the military/industrial complex. We learned and confirmed that leading generals make military decisions based on their personal bias toward the left.

The disengagement focused the attention of those who loved the nation and separated those who merely live there. We see that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in order to save himself and his sons from being indicted, tried and possible jailed, to divest the Jewish nation of a critical part (the southern approach taken by every enemy assault) with more on the way.

We see he is ready to 'gift' Jerusalem as he still lies in denial. The question arises: Is putting the entire Jewish country and her people at risk of being killed, maimed and disinherited a capital offense subject to the laws of capital punishment? If, as predicted by the nation's top generals and intelligence directors that Arab Muslim Palestinian terrorists will attack the nation, will Sharon and his collaborators be arrested and put to trial for deliberately exposing the nation to elevated levels of terror against the Jewish people.

We have learned a lot about Sharon, Shimon Peres, the police, the army, the Attorney General Menahem Mazuz, Sharon's Cabinet and the weak Knesset. We are paying a tremendous price for this information, as we will always doubt whether to ever trust the government. These are some of the lessons we have learned about the insidious corruption of the 'semi'-Jews who have come to power and then are elected again and again.

We have just learned during the August 13th Tisha B'av prayer service and march around Jerusalem's Old City walls that: 38 synagogues in Gush Katif will be demolished so that the Arab Muslims don't desecrate them. In other words, the Jews will desecrate the holy synagogues themselves. We also learned that one synagogue will not be demolished - the one in community of Elei Sinai - because this is where Cyril Kern and the Palestinian Authority will build their casino, huge hotel complex - use the Jewish homes for collaborators - and keep the synagogue for use by any possible Jewish tourists to the Arab Muslim/Jewish casino hotel complex.

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